This is going in the international category, but it could actually affect us here at home.
Despite the protests in Seattle, most people still don\'t know what the WTO is or what it is doing. Far from working for free trade, the WTO primarily works for the deregulation and privatization of economic activity on a global scale. Already, hundreds of US laws have been overriden by WTO rules. As you may have heard, these are laws protecting health, the environment, and labor rights. But did you know that cultural services, like eduction and libraries, are also covered by WTO rules? It can be considered a \"trade barrier\" for a community to provide publically funded library service where an international company tries to offer a competing service on a for-profit basis (for example, electronic \"library\" services like e-books).
There was a program at this summer\'s ALA conference discussing the implications of the WTO for libraries. American Libraries gave it a brief writeup, with the facetious title, Are Libraries a barrier to free trade?
IFLA came out with a strong statement against these WTO rules before the Seattle meeting. The Canadian Library Association also released a strong anti-WTO statement. After the meeting, ALA followed suit, alerted by the Social Responsibilities Round Table.
Read on for the resolution approved by ALA Council.